Category Archives: Book Reviews

New Horse Stories for the Holidays! — Natalie Keller Reinert

It’s time for some holiday spirit! I’m excited to announce that Deck the Stalls, a holiday anthology written especially for horse lovers, is now available for pre-order on Amazon! And not just because it includes an all-new story about Jules of The Eventing Series fame, but for all the other writers as well. Plus, it’s for a great cause: […]

With all proceeds going to benefit Old Friends, a retirement farm with more than 160 retired Thoroughbreds, this might be the best $2.99 you spend all season. Pre-order “Deck the Stalls” now! https://www.amazon.com/Deck-Stalls-Horse-Stories-Holiday…/…/

via New Horse Stories for the Holidays! — Natalie Keller Reinert

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Sunday Book Review: Two Novels by Mary Pagones

Here’s a rare experience for me: reading a book so intensely personal, I was literally nodding my head “yes, yes,” along with the narrator’s internal dialogue. Here’s a rare experience for me: finishing a book, reading the teaser of the follow-up book on the next page, and immediately downloading that book so I could continue the journey I was on. Here’s a rare experience for me: the next book was completely different in every way, from voice to characters to motivation, and it still affected me as much as the first one.

Pagones THINWI’m talking about the work of Mary Pagones here, an equestrian writer who Gets It. She’s one of those rare breed of writers who can get inside the head of a horse-person and lay bare our hopes and dreams, our ambitions and fears.

And she does it in a clever way, too.

Pagones starts her two-book (so far?) equestrian series with The Horse is Never Wrong, a totally non-conformist Young Adult horse story. (When I think about this book and how far we’ve come from The Saddle Club and Thoroughbred, I am just amazed and grateful for the gifts of independent publishing.) Narrator Heather isn’t impressed with her Asberger’s diagnosis — a crutch her teachers seem to love pinning her social anxieties and occasional academic blunders upon, but which might not actually exist, since Asberger’s has been folded into the Autism spectrum. All Heather knows is, everyone else is weird, and she is just doing her own thing. What’s wrong with that?

Heather discovers riding and riding is good for her… but it isn’t a Cinderella Goes To The Olympics story. Heather as a character is beautifully written — she narrates without self-pity, without (intentional) humor — she’s a just-the-facts-ma’am reporter. Her voice is unerringly true to herself. Not particularly flowery, even stilted at times, and always pretty sure something is going to go wrong. Here, Heather sums up her biggest challenge in life: dealing with herself.

“I’m just going to have suck and up and deal with the me I have been given, just like I have learned not to complain about a horse’s behavior. Change your behavior; it’s not the horse’s fault, I’m told.”

I got Heather. I totally understood Heather. I felt an almost alarming connection to Heather — she took me back to ninth grade (which was not a place I particularly wanted to go, but… I did some good riding that year, and I met some cool people at the barn to make up for the people I didn’t even remotely understand at my high school).

And that’s what makes Fortune’s Fool so interesting.

Pagones FFSimon, who makes his first appearance in The Horse is Never Wrong, couldn’t be more different from Heather. It’s several years in the future and Simon has gone from the local barn’s resident bronc-buster, that teenager who will get on anything, to a high school senior about to embark on his life’s dream. He’s going to be a working student at an eventing barn (clearly inspired by Tamarack Hill) and take life by the horns. He’s going to make a living as an eventer. He’s going to ride horses forever and ever and no one can stop him.

Simon is brash, arrogant, proud, hot-tempered, know-it-all… and yet he’s totally lovable. He listens to 80s punk and New Wave, worships The Killers, and is dying for a pair of Doc Martens if only they didn’t cost as much as a new pair of paddock boots. No one can tell Simon a damn thing… Simon knows best, thank you very much, especially about his riding, especially especially about his hell-for-leather cross-country style and his possibly-psychotic horse, Fortune.

Oh boy, did I get Simon.

If Heather took me back to my awkward “only my horse understands me” freshman year, Simon took me back to my post-high-school “I’ll sleep/earn money when I’m dead” years. (I’m still kind of in those years, except I give in to sleep way more often. I still don’t really earn any money, though. I write horse books.) But seriously… listened to 80s punk and New Wave. wanted a pair of Doc Martens but couldn’t justify the cost. knew that my parents and my teachers and life and everyone were wrong — there was no need to waste time on so-called intellectual pursuits, not when I could ride a horse, take care of a horse, clean up after a barn full of horses…

As truthful to writing from Simon’s perspective as she was from Heather’s, Pagones does a total 180 shift in her writing. Simon’s sentences are jagged, his observations are hyperbolic, his language is very, very salty. Simon cusses like a sailor, but what 18-year-old working student doesn’t? I used to boast that I only spoke English but thanks to fellow working students and foreign grooms, I could swear in five languages. (I don’t remember them anymore.) Simon thinks in bursts of emotion and long moments of introspection; what some people see as editing misses are more likely the workings of his mind. No one thinks in perfect sentences.

The aching truth behind Simon’s rough swagger is that he doesn’t know what’s going to happen and that’s scary as hell. He doesn’t have money, just talent. And he’s just as plagued by thirty under thirty lists as I’ve always been — of course, now my pet peeve are forty under forty lists. Could people stop being so accomplished, please? Here’s Simon, telling it like it is:

The sense of motionlessness is particularly strong when I read about about someone my age winning an international event. This seems to confirm everyone’s opinion that I’m making some sort of horrible mistake with my life.

He’s eighteen, he’s in a state somewhere between elation and panic about the future, and he’s in very deep waters, not just professionally, but romantically.

Been there.

What it all comes down to: The Horse is Never Wrong and Fortune’s Fool are not your average horse books. I’ve never read two books by the same author that were written so differently, and yet so genuinely. I’ve never identified with two characters so completely opposite in every way. These books are challenging in structure and story, completely honest to the equestrian life, and by turns both soft and gritty. Non-traditional and utterly readable, these are wonderful new entries into the growing equestrian fiction niche.

Click to find The Horse is Never Wrong and Fortune’s Fool at Amazon in Kindle ebook and paperback.

(originally published at NatalieKReinert.com)

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Horse-Crazy Doesn’t Look at A Calendar

I’m often struck by how much we share with the equestrians of the past. Our tack, our boots, the very way we sit our horses — whether we ride English or Western, we are very much in contact with our riding roots every day. Horsemanship is horsemanship, and, by the same token, the deep genetic need the truly horse-crazy feel to keep horses close to them probably hasn’t changed much in the past millennia or two, either.

ImageBut in Maggie Dana’s powerful new drama, Turning on a Dime, we’re asked to stop and consider what the modern horse-crazy life might look like in another time — one that isn’t quite so pretty and permissive as today.

Sam might be vying to become the first African-American member of the United States Equestrian Team, but really, race is the last thing on her mind. The horses don’t notice, and neither does she.

Caroline is too busy ducking away from crinolines and corsets to worry about her future role as a Southern Lady. And the war with the North is getting close to home, certainly, but as long as she can sneak out for a gallop on her mare, life is good enough.

They’re one hundred fifty years and a world of prejudice apart. But Sam and Caroline have a lot to learn about one another — and themselves — when one turn of a dime throws their lives together, and they learn how deeply their fates are entwined.

What happens when you throw a 21st-century teenager — who happens to be African-American — into an 1863 plantation house? Well, you’d think nothing good. Luckily, Caroline has a good heart, and a definite interest in Sam’s 21st-century toys. Every teenage girl wants an iPhone, even if they have no idea what it actually does. (That’s design for you.) And that iPhone will come in handy. Because Sam and Caroline are about to find out that there are more important problems than just getting Sam back to her own time, and sometimes video proof is all a person will believe.

In Turning on a Dime, one truth becomes clear: horsemanship has nothing to do with the date on the calendar, or the roles society has granted us. For those of us who proudly bear the title “horse-crazy,” horses are in our blood, and no silly laws or rules can change that. Our horses come first — everything else is just details.

Get Turning on a Dime at Amazon here (ebook here) and at Barnes & Noble here.

Visit Maggie Dana’s website for more on her books at maggiedana.com.

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Taking Chances: Equestrian Writers Who Collaborate Instead of Competing

The first Timber Ridge Riders novel had me hooked.

The first Timber Ridge Riders novel had me hooked.

I’m a huge proponent of indie publishing, not least because it has allowed horse books to enter a whole new level. Gone are the days when I could choose between a $5.99 paperback from the Thoroughbred series or a $35.95 hardcover tome on dressage principles if I wanted to have a little horsey reading time.

(And on a side-note, whoever decided that horse training books should be published on expensive glossy paperstock and with beautiful slipcovers was probably some accountant reading a report about the 35-55 married female with disposable income demo that represents the majority of Dressage Today’s subscribers, not a horse-person who knows a training book is best perused in the rather dirty and disheveled confines of the tack room immediately before or after a training session.)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… Indie publishing lets horse-people publish horse-books that I actually want to read.

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve reviewed Barbara Morgenroth and Maggie Dana books quite often at Retired Racehorse. That’s because they’re not just excellent writers, they’re horsewomen, and they write horse books that make sense. No one is going straight to the Olympics after they went to a summer riding camp, taught an unbroken Mustang to jump logs in the woods by moonlight, and subsequently won the Grand Prix at the National Horse Show. (Any old Grand Prix will do.)

Instead, Maggie writes about tweens who are going about the very difficult business of growing up and working really, really hard to improve their riding because they know nothing else really matters in life.

Bittersweet Farm's 1st novel, Mounted

As did the first Bittersweet Farm novel, Mounted.

Meanwhile, Barbara writes about teens who are going about the very difficult business of growing up (in a much more edgy manner, because teens) and working really, really hard to improve their riding even though they’re not entirely convinced that it’s the best way to spend their time (because teens).

The books lend to one another beautifully: As Barbara said, “Maggie’s books are a gateway to mine.”

And, I’d like to think, Barbara’s books lead to mine, which are written about adults in the horse business.

No more skipping from Thoroughbred to Mary Wanless in one not-so-easy step. Horse books have a progression now.

And indie publishing isn’t just wonderful because it allows us to read books we might never get to enjoy otherwise. Indie publishing also provides for a spirit of collaboration and friendship between authors who realize that by working together, they can provide the best possible reading experience for fans. Recently, they sent me this wonderful article:

How Two Rivals Came Together to Make a Team

How Two Rivals Came Together to Make a Team: YA & Tween horse book authors Barbara Morgenroth and Maggie Dana

The 3rd Bittersweet Farm book from Barbara Morgenroth, Wingspread

The 3rd Bittersweet Farm book from Barbara Morgenroth, Wingspread

In the world of traditional book publishing, Barbara Morgenroth and Maggie Dana would be rival authors, both vying for the same limited space on bookstore shelves devoted to children’s and YA fiction. Very likely they’d be monitoring one another’s sales ranks and rejoicing if the other author dropped a few points.

“Hooray! Let’s break out the whips and spurs!”

But when it comes to indie publishing, all that has gone out the window. Independent authors are totally open about sharing resources and information and helping one another. Some have edited and/or proofed another’s books for free; other indies have provided their fellow authors with professionally designed covers, formatting, and typesetting (again, for free) because they believed in someone else’s book and wanted to help.

Six months ago, Barbara and Maggie only knew each other from their Amazon listings, but thanks to a chance encounter on a well-respected indie publishing industry blog, they connected in real time.

And they are loving it.

After getting to know one another via phone and email, they swapped information: Maggie has taught Barbara how to format her books for ePub and Kindle, and Barbara (whose multiple talents include writing for daytime television) has helped Maggie broaden her writing horizons. They’ve also swapped characters.

The latest Timber Ridge Riders release, Taking Chances, by Maggie Dana

The latest Timber Ridge Riders release, Taking Chances, by Maggie Dana

Lockie Malone, Barbara’s enigmatic horse trainer who stars in her Bittersweet Farm series, makes a guest appearance in Taking Chances, the seventh book in Maggie’s Timber Ridge Riders series for mid-grade/tween readers.

At some point, one of Maggie’s Timber Ridge characters will show up in Barbara’s Bittersweet Farm YA books.

And who knows where this will lead? All bets are off as these two writers set aside any hint of competition and work together to make their genres the best they can be… and they’re having a boatload of fun while doing it.

About these two horse-crazy authors …

Maggie Dana, tween horse book author, shows us how it's done.

Maggie and Smoky show us how it’s done. Photo: Maggie Dana

Maggie Dana

Maggie Dana’s first riding lesson, at the age of five, was less than wonderful. In fact, she hated it so much, she didn’t try again for another three years. But all it took was the right instructor and the right horse and she was hooked for life.

Her new riding stable was slap bang in the middle of Pinewood Studios, home of England’s movie industry. So while learning to groom horses, clean tack, and muck stalls, Maggie also got to see the stars in action. Some even spoke to her.

Born and raised near London, Maggie now makes her home on the Connecticut shoreline where she divides her time between hanging out with the family’s horses and writing her next book in the Timber Ridge Riders series. She also writes women’s fiction and her latest novel, Painting Naked, was published in 2012 by Macmillan/Momentum.

Visit: maggiedana.com

Barbara Morgenroth, every bit as intense as her characters in the saddle. Morgenroth writes edgy YA fiction for horse-lovers.

Barbara Morgenroth, every bit as intense as her characters in the saddle

Barbara Morgenroth

Barbara was born in New York City and but now lives somewhere else. She got her first horse when she was eleven and rode nearly every day for many years, eventually teaching equitation, then getting involved in eventing.

Starting her career by writing tween and YA books, she wound up in daytime television for some years. Barbara then wrote a couple of cookbooks and a nonfiction book on knitting. She returned to fiction and wrote romantic comedies.

When digital publishing became a possibility, Barbara leaped at the opportunity and has never looked back. In addition to the fifteen traditionally published books she wrote, in digital format Barbara has something to appeal to almost every reader—from mature YAs like the Bad Apple series and the Flash series, to contemporary romances like Love in the Air published by Amazon/Montlake, along with Unspeakably Desirable, Nothing Serious, and Almost Breathing.

Visit: barbaramorgenroth.com

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Sunday Book Review: Keeping the Peace

Keeping The Peace cover imageOh friends! This week Sunday Book Review is back and I have a very fun romance for you! 

Keeping The Peace is the first of a series built around a National Hunt racing stable. I’m utterly in love with the main character. I’m just going to say it: this book could be called Bridget Jones Goes to the Races and it wouldn’t be far off the mark. Luckily, I love both Bridget Jones and racing, so this was a match made in heaven for me.

Sweet, lovely, and impressively creative with bad language when she’s pissed off, Pippa Taylor is going through the motions. She’s got a job, she’s got a flat, she’s got a sort-of actor boyfriend who is just bound to get discovered one of these days. She has the requisite bad-girl best friend, she has the requisite lost dream of being an artist — she has everything you need to be a another cog in the machine.

But nothing throws a machine out of whack like a horse. They’re pre-Industrial Age, they defy all logic, and we love them without reason. And while Pippa is no horsey girl, when she inherits a pair of Thoroughbreds from her uncle, she’s struck by not just the inherent promise in a horse, but by the dream that her uncle had for one of them.

That’s Peace Offering, and like every horse, he comes with baggage. His racing history is rubbish, for one thing. His trainer is a bad-tempered Horse Racing Ken Doll, for another. Peace Offering immediately starts changing Pippa’s life in all sorts of crazy fashions, as horses do.

Hooton’s evocative imagery and crisp writing sets this story apart from the competition. Here’s Pippa meeting a yard of racehorses for the first time:

She stopped at the first stable and peeked inside. Suddenly, half a ton of horseflesh came hurtling towards the door, teeth bared, ears pinned back. Pippa gave a startled yelp and jumped out of harm’s way. She yelped again as she collided with a neat cutlery set of pitchforks and spades leaning against the wall.

I loved the National Hunt racing setting. Like most Americans, I know about Cheltenham and the Gold Cup and the King George V in a sort of abstract fashion: they’re steeplechases in England. I know that… that… um… well, they happen. I’ve sat up at odd hours watching the jumps racing and I absolutely love it… riding a steeplechasing course is definitely on my bucket list. (Some might say it ought to be the last item on my bucket list.) I know about Kauto Star. If pressed I would say Haydock is a horse and not a place but I’d have to Google it.

Despite holding an exercise riders’ license, when it comes to jumps racing, I’m kind of a Pippa:

“Who’s Virtuoso?”

Jack shook his head helplessly.

“We won the Cheltenham Gold Cup with him earlier this year. Won eight Grade Ones on the bounce. He’s a bit of a celebrity.”

“I know Cheltenham!” Pippa cried, excited that she knew something to do with horseracing.

The new-to-me setting gave this book a particular charm, especially the very thrilling racing scenes. Thrilling, terrifying, you know — just think how stressful you find it watching your favorite horse (to say nothing of your own) running a six furlong race. Now imagine a three mile race. I wonder if Americans as a society would even survive if we were suddenly forced to watch NH instead of flat racing. Our poor over-taxed hearts would just give out after 2 minutes.

Imagine poor Pippa urging on her horse, only to see a horse fall on the other side of the fence, right in their landing path, that Finn, the jockey can’t possibly know about.

Peace Offering stretched higher and wider to clear the yawning ditch and wall of spruce. Pippa could almost see the surprise register in Finn’s body language when he caught sight of the fallen horse on the landing side.

“Please God, help them.”

They touched down a stride away from Corazon. Peace Offering took half a stride and took off again, hurdling the half-risen faller.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Pippa babbled. She wondered how many other repented sins God would allow her. Another fifteen fences’ worth?

Fifteen fences. At this point I’m sweating and I’m just reading the book.

But that’s one of the many pleasures of Keeping the Peace. With exciting racing scenes, a slow-burning romance, and the delightfully creative swearing (yes, two mentions in one review) that the British have truly mastered, Keeping the Peace is one of my favorite reads this year.

Get it at Amazon!

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Love and Lessons at Bittersweet Farm

Horses heal what pains you. Except when they don’t.

Sometimes they make things worse.

Mounted: Barbara Morgenroth

Bittersweet Farm #1: Mounted, by Barbara Morgenroth.

The fact of the matter is: horses make poor containers for our hearts. Over and over, we put our happiness into their safekeeping. And over and over, they find some way to trample on it. They age more quickly than we do. They leave us before we are ready for the separation. And every time they are lost to us, whether through retirement or death, we have to deal with all the trauma that made us to turn to them on the first place, all over again.

In Mounted, Talia loves Butch, her old equitation horse, to the exclusion of every other horse on her father’s posh private farm. It’s easy to see why no other horse rides like Butch, jumps like Butch, asks for head-rubs like Butch. And why she gave her heart to him and him alone.

There was no one else to give it to.

Talia’s half-sister, Greer, despises her. Her father is an absent businessman. Her mother, sick for so long, once the object of Talia’s care and attention, is gone. She lives on a beautiful Connecticut estate, but it’s never been her home. Life might appear beautiful but…

It was more like being on an extended excursion with people you didn’t know very well, didn’t want to know and just wanted to go home.

And living on the picture-perfect equestrian paradise has its drawbacks: Talia is expected to compete, like her half-sister Greer, on the A-circuit. It was no skin off Greer’s nose: all she was after was attention and blue ribbons.

She held no allegiance or affection for any horse and could switch them every season for a newer, shinier model. I was still riding the same horse given me the year my mother died. If I had to attend the shows against my will, at least I wanted to do it with my best friend.

And by best friend, Talia isn’t talking about Greer.

But I didn’t have to tell you that.

So we have Talia, alone and lonely except for her horse, who spent her younger years caring for her sick mother and her teenage years being overshadowed by her Malibu Stacy Maclay Medal Edition of a sister. Tired of showing, tired of the parade of trainers who file through Bittersweet Farm, lured by money and good horses and trapped into quitting or sacking through the machinations of Greer (in and out of the sack) when she doesn’t win her favorite color ribbon. She just wants to be left alone to ride Butch.

And then the new trainer, a hot-shot ex-Junior champion who has been roughing it with the eventing crowd for the past few years, tells her Butch isn’t moving quite right.

Just like that, Talia is without a mount. And her best friend is put out to pasture.

The horse who held her together, the horse who held her heart, is slipping away from her. And Talia, who needs to care for someone, who cared for her mother, is, once again, left with no one.

But then she sees someone who needs caring for: Lockie. A promising young trainer who put all his eggs in one basket, and let the basket come tumbling down. He’s a man on the edge of disaster, but only Talia can see it.

And Lockie sees in her a talented horsewoman who was just riding in the wrong discipline. Talia wasn’t born to pose and look pretty. Talia needs to be active, doing, nurturing. Working in partnerships, teaching.

“What do you know about dressage?” Lockie asked as he gave me a leg up on Wing.

“Nothing.”

Lockie didn’t reply.

“No, in all the years I’ve been taking lessons, not one teacher ever mentioned the word dressage, until just now.”

Talia’s first dressage lesson reminds me of my own, at age thirteen. I’d only ever ridden hunters. No one had ever suggested that riding could be more than walk, posting trot, two-point canter. The height of sophistication, for me, was a flying lead change.

In a way, I felt as though I had never had a riding lesson until that afternoon. Nothing had ever been analyzed before. All the trainers had ever done was to stand in the middle of the ring and tell me what to do. Walk, trot, canter. Head up, heels down, back straight. Year after year, it was the same thing until I was as picture-perfect as I could be and bored out of my head.

I remember that feeling… that Why has no one ever told me this before? feeling. That there is so much more to this than I ever realized feeling. We’ll call it That Dressage Feeling and leave it at that.

There is romance to this book, of course, and it’s a good time watching it unfold, but I’m just as excited to see Talia’s equestrian experience change as she is finally mounted on the right horse, not Butch, but another horse that can take her further and help her understand more about the mechanics and emotions of horsemanship, as I am to see what happens with the sexual tension that builds steadily through the book.

And yes, there is sexual tension. The characters are teenage females on a horse farm. There are sexy horse trainers everywhere. Everyone’s wearing tight pants and getting sweaty and emotions are running high over horses and placings and… well, sexual tension is the reality for a lot of horse show girls, I’m just sayin’. No less for Talia and Lockie, who are engaged in a very Victorian game of snappy retorts and double entendres while Greer just sort of rages around in Tailored Sportsmans and tight t-shirts.

“Now I have to teach Rogers who is afraid of her horse and has a crush on me and Greer who wants to… God, I don’t know what she wants to do to me.”

“Isn’t that the exciting part for men?”

Lockie finished his dessert and pushed back from the table. “Yeah, no. What do we have to do to get Greer to keep her pants on?”

“Worry about keeping your own pants on.”

The equestrian details are outstanding, the characters are lively and fun and described beautifully (” ‘I need a horse,’ Greer said all but stamping her feet and demanding Cocoa Puffs.”) and the dialogue is particularly snappy. The exchanges between Lockie and Greer, Lockie and Talia, Talia and Greer… everyone, really… are the real stand-outs of this novel. I’m happy to categorize this book on the very exclusive “Made Me Laugh Out Loud On a Crowded Subway” shelf.

Get it at Amazon!

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Timber Ridge Riders Keep Raising the Bar

I originally set out to read and review the latest Timber Ridge Riders book, Chasing Dreams, the way I always do: seek out the underlying theme, fall in love with a few cute lines of dialogue, tell you guys that you really need to read them, etc.

But this book is just so good.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really just don’t read Young Adult or Middle Grade or Kiddie Books or whatever you want to call any genre that doesn’t have an swear words in it. (Not because of the swear words!  Now why would you assume that!)

Chasing Dreams by Maggie Dana

Chasing Dreams by Maggie Dana

There could be many reasons for this. One might be that I am in no way, even slightly, in any shape or form, nostalgic for childhood or my teen years or anything like that. Being a kid is the pits. I am so, so sorry for all of you kids out there. Don’t worry, you WILL grow up! It will happen!

Now, I did a lot of very cool things when I was a child/teen, don’t get me wrong. I have done the things horse-girls are supposed to do, like go bareback in my bathing suit down to the crick and watch, screaming with laughter, as a friend’s horse decides to roll in the water and said friend has to go diving for safety in the water and then snatch at my own reins in panic as my horse begins to consider a similar move. It wasn’t terrible. I just prefer being an adult, and reading about other adults.

That’s why the Timber Ridge books always surprise me. It’s their wit, it’s their cleverness, it’s the sheer awful genius of Angela. She outdoes herself in this book, let me tell you. Angela may be a horrible horsewoman and a terrible human being, but she is smart as a whip. She is a worthy opponent to Kate, who is beginning to grow weary of always being the Good Girl who Just Takes It.

And Kate is starting to get sick of always being trampled all over by Angela, and Angela’s friends, and Life In General. Kate has put up with a lot. Kate has to deal with a father who is more interested in his butterfly career than raising his daughter, until Oh wait! He wants to raise his daughter now. He wants to be best best friends with his daughter now. Gee, thanks, Dad. Now that I have an actual life, you want to make a buddy movie, Kate is thinking. Now that I have goals and friends and an actual possessions that don’t fit into a single suitcase, you want to show me how much you care. Nice timing.

So Kate’s dad is causing trouble, and Angela is causing trouble, and Holly’s boyfriend won’t stop texting her so Holly is causing trouble, and everything is trouble, and poor Kate, and…

That’s it!

Timber Ridge Riders is exactly what being a teenager is like, and that’s why I like it. There’s no nostalgia in these pages for me, just… man I get you Kate. I hated high school too.

And that, friends, is how you blog your way to an epiphany. Did you see what just happened there?

So, go and read Chasing Dreams, the fifth Timber Ridge Riders book, because as you can see it has altered my consciousness and also because it’s so, so good. Maggie Dana’s characters just have the quickest, lightest, funniest dialogue. I read these books so fast, chortling all the way. They’re brilliant.

And let me tell you, I’m not the only one. One of Dana’s fans has actually started a fan community just for Timber Ridge Riders. She’s looking for friends to come over and chat about the characters and horses in general, so go over and get into the conversation with her! I should be so lucky as to have a fan of my books start a fan community. Can you imagine? AlexandAlexander.net, probably. That would be awesome. Someone do that.

CHASING DREAMS is available at Barnes & Noble

and Amazon:

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